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Conor is aiming high on the Atlas

Thursday, 9th January, 2020 9:07am

A Cork student is undertaking a gruelling trek on a mountainous trail this summer to raise money for Ireland’s only children’s hospice.

Conor O’Driscoll (22) a final year student of Environmental Science in UCC will traverse a trail along the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco to raise funds for the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.

An experienced trekker, Conor has undertaken a similar fundraising expedition to the Everest Basecamp, however the Moroccan Atlas mountains will be his most challenging trek to date.

Conor said: “After four or five days hiking, you really feel it on your shoulders, having the bag on all the time. Over the next few months as the weather improves we’ll get more hiking practice done. The heat alone will be exhausting. There is two days where we will be ascending more than 1000m a day which is significant. The most we did on the basecamp trek was 800m.”

Facing average temperatures of 35 degrees during the day, Conor and the team will spend six days hiking alongside local guides, and donkeys carrying supplies of food and water.

“On Everest, everyone lost a fair bit of weight because you’re expending a lot of calories. We’ll carry enough water for two to three hours before stopping to refill,” continued Conor.

The gruelling conditions will require him to consume approximately nine litres of water per day to stay hydrated. At night, the temperature drops drastically, meaning the team will carry cold weather clothing, and camp in bitterly cold conditions.

Conor will be the team leader of 20 members of the Cork team, with another team of 20 students from the University of Limerick on the expedition. His training has involved months of physical preparation for the arduous task.

“A lot of people would consider themselves fit enough, but when you’re on mountainous terrain, you need a different kind of fitness to GAA or soccer. It’s long endurance hiking. We’ll try and get a good training hike in each week.”

LauraLynn receives no direct Government funding, and relies on donations and fundraisers like Conor’s to raise 95 per cent of its funding. This year it will require €4.6m to keep services running.

LauraLynn is hosting a Thank You campaign tomorrow, Friday 10 January, to coincide with International Thank You Day.

Speaking about the campaign, representative Jennifer McDonald said: “This campaign is a chance for us to thank our donors and supporters who do amazing work allowing us to keep the doors of Ireland’s only children’s hospice open.”

For further information or to make a donation to LauraLynn, visit.lauralynn.ie/donate.

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